Monday, March 15, 2010

Another one of my favorites

One of my favorite students wears baggy jeans and chunky chain necklaces. He spends all of his time drawing graffiti in his notebooks--not the type of kid who you would expect to be engaged in English class.

Yet, he is always listening. His eyes are on his graffiti, but his mind is on the discussion. I am amazed how his hand shoots in the air when I ask a probing question about the literature. He is my #1 participator, and his leadership prompts everyone else in the class to participate too.

When our class put on the play version of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, he volunteered to read McMurphy, and he knocked us all dead with his enthusiasm. He is McMurphy. Swaggering, rebellious, troubled...but kind-hearted, smart, and funny.

I love this student.

When he came into class today, I wanted to cry. One side of his face was practically deformed--puffy eye, bruises, stitches. It was difficult to look at, especially considering how much I adore this kid.

"What happened?" I asked, reaching out to pat his arm. I wanted to hug him.

"I got bit by a dog," he responded, a little nervously, not meeting my eyes.

It is very obvious to me that he did not get bit by a dog.

I couldn't look at him while I was teaching because it made me want to burst into tears. He is going to be scarred for life.

Did he get drunk or high and do something stupid? Did he get jumped? Is he in a gang?

I don't know what happened, but what I do know is that when I look at this student, I see who I hope he becomes: I see him in ten years--an art or architecture student, wearing a collared shirt, jeans, and skater shoes. I see him with a wife that he loves and defends and takes care of.

My students sit in their desks, and I wonder what their lives are like and what their lives will be like. I wish they knew what I can see.


  1. oh my goodness! everyone should have a teacher like you. someone who really cares.

  2. man. how sad.
    that poor kid has probably been "bitten" by a dog" MANY times in his life.
    you are such a wonderful teacher Rachel. . . keep it up and keep caring. . . you do wonders, i know it!
    that boy NEEDS you. :)

  3. Wow, how incredibly crazy. It's amazing what kids can overcome, and I hope your wish for him comes true.

    I also hope my kids have teachers like you someday.

  4. Yikes. That makes my heart very sad. Maybe you SHOULD let him know what you see. It wouldn't hurt to write him a note and tell him how much you enjoy having him in class, how much you appreciate how his participation and energy motivates the rest of the students, and how much potential you see in him. Now sounds like a good time.

  5. I can totally picture you in your classroom. These kids are so lucky to have someone so fun and someone who really cares. Keep it up.

    Someday there will be a movie about Mrs. Nielson. Until then though thanks for letting us read the blog.

  6. Hi Rach -
    You should tell him you see great thigs in him and what specifically you like about him. Sounds like he doesn't get this anywhere else.

    He's lucky to have you as a teacher.


  7. i agree tell hi somehow! you are such a great teacher. i wish i'd had you for english class.

  8. Rachel-

    It's so good to hear of the good you see in him- as you know Andrew likes to be a bit on the edge and I hope others can see the good in him- and you remind me to always see it in him also.


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